Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Somali women (via)
Reviewed by Christina

Full title: Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations

Published: 2010

It's about: "Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations is a memoir by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a sequel to her New York Times bestseller Infidel. Released in the United States by Free Press, it deals in greater depth than the earlier book with certain aspects of the author's childhood in SomaliaKenya and Saudi Arabia, and in particular with her family, as well as with her exile from Holland and her present home with the American Enterprise Institute in the United States. The book is highly critical of Islam and the multiculturalism which the author sees as enabling its extremism, and makes the controversial case that moderate Christian churches should seek actively to convert Muslim believers." (wikipedia)

I thought:  As you may remember from my Top Most Inspirational Characters post ages ago, I very much admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Her first memoir, Infidel, blew me away.  I've thrust it into the hands of many friends and family members.  So it makes perfect sense that Nomad would sit on my shelf, unread, for nearly two years, right?  After finishing Infidel I learned that Ms. Hirsi Ali now works at a conservative think tank here in the U.S., and (don't hate me now) that made me reticent about Nomad.  I was worried I wouldn't like it as much and/or that it would diminish my fangirl feelings toward her.

And yes, Ayaan Hirsi Ali falls to the right of me on certain political (especially economic) issues.  I can't quite get behind the scathing blame she places on multiculturalism.  And here and there I felt she was using experiences from her own personal and family life to support her ideas rather than drawing the ideas out naturally from her experiences as she did in her first memoir.  But I'm pleased to report that I like her just as much now as I did before reading Nomad.  We agree on a lot of social issues; she is a fierce feminist who places the practical lives of women above any religion or ideology. (See the nonprofit she founded, AHA.)  And her perspective is invaluable.  If there is anyone on earth qualified to criticize Islam and our Western cultural attitudes toward it, it's Ayaan Hirsi Ali.    

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf.  And Infidel too.

Warnings:  Some disturbing (but factual and important) material related to rape and female circumcision.

Favorite excerpts:  “It is easy to be disgruntled if you are denied rights and freedoms to which you feel entitled. But if you are not coherent, if you cannot put into words what it is that displeases you and why it is unfair and should change, then you are dismissed as an unreasonable whiner. You may be lectured about perseverance and patience, life as a test, the need to accept the higher wisdom of others.” 

What I'm reading next:  Les Misérables by Victor Hugo